Being involved with adolescents on a daily basis, I see a wide range of emotional responses to the school environment.
Thankfully, most are healthy and positive.
There are a growing number of students, however, who experience high levels of debilitating anxiety that can have direct impacts on their emotional, social and academic well-being. Of course, it is well documented that adolescence is characterised by rapid changes in physical, social, psychological and cognitive functions. Most adults and parents can remember the challenges that they themselves faced as they progressed through the teenage years.
Levels of anxiety – and, in Australia, depression – are increasing among our young people at a startling rate. This is of great concern because traditional thought has been that with almost ubiquitous access to technology and support organisations, levels of these conditions should decrease. Shouldn’t they? Why are so many of our young people experiencing such a hard time of their adolescence?
I can certainly say that when I was a teenager – not that long ago, mind you – I couldn’t contact support online in any way. At best, if I could get past my parents, I could maybe make a phone call on the one home phone. My heart grows heavy as I think of my peers who were battling depression or anxiety and how hard it must have been for them to seek assistance. Yet now, with more access than ever before and with a huge range of organisations offering 24/7 support and advice, we are still seeing too many of our valuable young people suffering.
Over the coming weeks, I will be writing a number of posts on this topic based upon recent research into adolescent brain development, the importance of explicit well-being education in schools, the rise and rise of technology and what we as parents, teachers and a community can do to support our kids at this time.
As always, I welcome your feedback!